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Research Summary

Wine Drinkers May Have Better Health Outcomes

While animal experiments show that polyphenols in wine, rather than alcohol in general, may protect against the development of atherosclerosis, thrombosis, and other disorders, data from human studies are inconsistent. In this study, researchers evaluated the effects of alcoholic beverage preference (the beverage subjects reported drinking the most often) on mortality and quality of life in old age among 2468 Finnish men.

Subjects were businessmen or executives with a similar socioeconomic status and aged 40–55 years at baseline. Of those who drank and had a beverage preference, most preferred spirits (n=937). Preferences remained consistent throughout follow-up, and total alcohol consumption was not significantly different across the preference groups.

  • During 29 years of follow-up, 814 men died.
  • Men who preferred wine (n=251) or beer (n=694) had a lower mortality risk than men who preferred spirits (relative risks, 0.7 and 0.9, respectively) in analyses adjusted for cardiovascular risk factors and total alcohol consumption. Results were significant for wine drinkers only.
  • Men who preferred wine also had significantly higher scores on the general health and mental health scales of a validated questionnaire used to determine health-related quality of life at follow-up.

Comments:

Because subjects were from the same socioeconomic group, potential confounding from lifestyle factors was probably low. Also, wine drinkers still fared better than others when possible confounding by total alcohol intake and cardiovascular risk factors was addressed. Nevertheless, this is an observational study, and residual confounding by unmeasured lifestyle factors may have influenced the results.

R. Curtis Ellison, MD

Reference:

Strandberg TE, Strandberg AY, Salomaa VV, et al. Alcoholic beverage preference, 29-year mortality, and quality of life in men in old age. J Gerontology. 2007;62A(2):213–218.


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